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Around the NFC West: Learning, unlearning Martz

8/4/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News shows how 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz's background in kinesiology played a role in his development as a stickler for mechanics. Martz: "It really helps you to teach your quarterbacks to understand the physics of it. The balance, the lines of force, the kinetic energy and all that kind of stuff. It really does help you streamline their techniques and make them most efficient."

Nicholas Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press says Lions quarterback Drew Stanton is working hard to unlearn what Martz taught him about mechanics. Stanton: "I have no idea looking back why all that happened, all the changes that he made." Conflicting storylines tend to be common in sports. The Lions think they'll be better after firing Martz. The 49ers think they'll be better after adding Martz. Both could be right.

Doug Drinen of Pro Football Reference shows which running backs have benefited most from playing with Pro Bowl offensive linemen. NFC West alumni Eric Dickerson, Shaun Alexander, Roger Craig and Wendell Tyler rank relatively high on the lists, but no one ranks higher than Jim Brown.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com assesses what it means for Mike Holmgren to enter his final season as Seahawks coach with successor Jim Mora on the staff. It's an arrangement that hasn't always worked, but Judge thinks Seattle can pull it off.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks might consider keeping nine defensive backs, one more than usual, if former Michigan safety Jamar Adams keeps up his impressive play. Injuries have a way of helping to sort out these dilemmas. 

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams plan to keep three quarterbacks heading into the season, up from two in 2007. Bruce Gradkowski or Brock Berlin will get the call behind Marc Bulger and Trent Green. Each NFC West team has four quarterbacks in camp. The Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks carried only two quarterbacks on their opening-day rosters last season. Seattle acquired Charlie Frye from the Browns after the first game.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reveals which Rams players are making the most of injury-induced opportunities. Strong-side linebacker Quinton Culberson heads the list. I got the feeling at Rams camp that Culberson would likely start this season. Veteran Chris Draft can back up all three positions.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are looking forward to practicing against the Raiders. Cornerback Walt Harris: "You practice against yourself all the time. Practicing against other guys forces you to focus a lot more."

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times checks in with Seahawks offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Mike DeBord. Something I did not know: Solari and DeBord did not know each other before Seattle hired them this offseason. They work together very well from what I've seen at practices. If they can get Seattle's line to work together that well and that quickly, the Seahawks should improve quite a bit in their running game. Also from Romero: Receiver Courtney Taylor is thrilled to be back on the practice field after resting a hamstring injury. The Seahawks think Taylor can become a contributor.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers puts the team's quarterback competition in perspective. The race between Alex Smith, Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan cannot touch what the Packers are going through. Green Bay visits the 49ers on Aug. 16.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune sizes up the Seahawks' growing injury list. Space constraints presumably prevented him from listing Floyd Womack's injury history. In May 2007, I noted Womack had missed time with injuries to his quadriceps, triceps, calf, heel, toe, knees, ankle, hip, hand, head and hamstring. A knee injury is keeping him out now.